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Wales 'leaps ahead in superfast broadband availability'

Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Ofcom says Wales has the highest availability of superfast broadband of any of the devolved nations.

It says nearly four in five premises in Wales are now capable of receiving superfast broadband at speeds of 30Mbit/s. That is up by a quarter from last year.

The surge in these figures is largely due to the roll-out of the Superfast Cymru programme across Wales

It is encouraging to see that Wales is on the front foot in rolling out fibre broadband and more importantly that consumers in Wales are realising the benefits of superfast services.

We’ve come a long way since the first cabinet in the UK was connected to superfast broadband in Whitchurch, Cardiff in 2009.

However, there remains more work to be done to ensure that Wales becomes a truly digital nation.

– Rhodri Williams, Ofcom’s Director in Wales.

NFU Cymru launches broadband survey

Credit: David Jones/PA

NFU Cymru has launched the first farmer-focused broadband and mobile phone survey in a bid to inform its work on getting an efficient service rolled out in rural areas.

The union says it is essential the business needs and opportunities of the farming sector are understood, especially at a time when farm businesses rely more and more on broadband and mobile phone signals.

This is a hugely important survey, our member experience will prove invaluable for identifying both the barriers and technological solutions for the delivery of fast, reliable and affordable mobile phone signals and broadband on farm

– Stephen James, NFU Cymru President

£4.5m for brain research could find cause of dementia

The money will go towards a 'centre of excellence' in Cardiff.

Credit: Andreas Gebert/DPA/PA Images

£4.5m of EU funds has been announced to help Cardiff University develop a leading centre of excellence for brain research.

The new CUBRIC (Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre) building will enable researchers to test new ideas and theories.

It could lead to a better understanding of the causes of a range of health conditions, including dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

The EU funds through the Welsh Government will support the construction works of the new £44m state-of-the-art facility based at Maindy Park.

This is another excellent example of how EU funds are supporting growth in the Welsh economy, helping our academic institutions to attract further competitive and private research investments and position Wales as a global leader in ground-breaking research and innovation.

– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister

The Welsh Government says the expansion of CUBRIC is expected to generate up to £22m in additional research investments over the coming years, enabling further collaboration to combat diseases that affect the brain.

CUBRIC’s pairing of world-leading technology with an extremely talented set of researchers will help to understand differences in normal brain function and the causes of conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia, and multiple sclerosis. Ultimately, this information will lead to the development of better treatments.

– Professor Derek Jones, Director of CUBRIC


Wales Space Strategy formally launched

Llanbedr is one of eight sites identified for a possible spaceport. Credit: Department of Transport

Wales' new Space Strategy will be launched today at the UK Space Conference.

The conference is being held in Liverpool and it will give Welsh companies the chance to showcase their talent.

Optical solar reflectors, earth observation systems and satellite solar cells are some of the services and products that come from Wales.

The space industry is a growing sector in Wales and we already have significant academic and industry capabilities in this area.

Wales’ aerospace, electronics and software industries collectively employ over 50,000 people and contribute over £5billion to the economy.

With the global space sector set to grow to £400 billion by 2030, our presence at this event will be used to promote the vast and diverse aerospace skills and supply chain we have in Wales, explore research and business growth opportunities and show potential investors why we are a serious contender in this area

– Edwina Hart AM, Economy, Science and Transport Minister

Electronics 'centre of excellence' for Cardiff

Credit: Michael Rosenfeld/DPA/Press Association Images

A 'global hub' for research into semiconductors and their materials is to be set up in the capital.

Cardiff University has signed a deal with semiconductor wafer company IQE.

It says it will drive the testing and development of technology that lies behind global ‘megatrends’ including smart phones and tablets.

It says sectors including healthcare, biotechnology and mass communications could benefit.

Coupling IQE’s infrastructure with Cardiff’s existing strengths in expanding areas of semiconductor devices and materials will create cutting-edge opportunities that will put us ahead of our competitors.

– Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor

Appy days for Anglesey's red squirrels

A new app for smartphones and tablets is helping to conserve Anglesey's red squirrel population.

North Wales' red squirrels faced extinction. Credit: Paul Spear

It lets people pinpoint where they have seen the loveable rodent. Others can then log onto the app and and find out where the squirrels are.

The app has been designed by Llandudno based firm Livetech.

Native red squirrels faced wipe-out from Britain before a conservation effort was launched on Anglesey two decades ago.

The success of the campaign is mostly down to a huge effort to control invasive grey squirrels, which were introduced to Britain from America in 1876 and carry a virus that's fatal to its red cousin.

As a result, the number of grey squirrels grew to 2.5 million while the red squirrel population fell to 120,000.

Now experts say the native reds are bouncing back - on Anglesey the population was down to as low as 40, but it’s now up to a healthy 700 and they're even spreading across the Menai Strait to Bangor on the mainland.

"The data collected through the app is very useful to us because it helps us keep track of where the red squirrels are going. We monitor distribution and abundance. If you go back 15 years hardly anybody saw a red squirrel on the island, but now people are spotting them more and more often."

– Dr Craig Shuttleworth, Director Red Squirrels Trust Wales
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